Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jnana yoga

The word ‘Jnana’ in Sanskrit means ‘knowledge’, ‘insight, or ‘wisdom’. Jnana yoga is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies. According to ancient Greeks, the word gnosis means a special kind of liberating knowledge or intuition. Actually, both the terms ‘jnana’ and ‘gnosis’ are related through the Indo-European root ‘gno’, which means ‘to know’.

The path of Jnana-Yoga, which has been described as a straight but steep course, is outlined with elegant conciseness by Sadananda in his ‘Vedanta-Sara’, a fifteenth-century manuscript. Sadananda lists four principal means for attaining liberation.

1. Viveka - Discrimination: This is the capability to differentiate between what is real/eternal and what is unreal/ temporal (everything else in the universe.)

2. Vairagya-Dispassion: After practice one should be able to separate her/himself from everything that is temporary.

3. Shad-sampat - The 6 Virtues: Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (faith), and Samadhana (perfect concentration).

4. Mumukshutva – the cultivation of the spiritual impulse

Bhakti Yoga

In Hinduism Bhakti Yoga is a term which indicates the spiritual practice of nurturing loving devotion to God, called ‘bhakti’. Traditionally there are nine forms of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti yoga is generally considered the easiest of the four general paths to liberation, or moksha. The other paths include Karma, Raja and Jnana Yoga. In Bhagavata Purana, bhakti is portrayed as a perfection stage in itself which surpasses even moksha as a level of spiritual realization. Hindu movements in which bhakti yoga is the main practice are called bhakti movements.

Bhakti Yoga is the system in which love and devotion are highlighted. Bhakti Yoga traditions do not teach about main aspects of yoga like asana, pranayama, mudra or meditation. Love of God, love of God in man, and surrender to God's will are the major points in Bhakti Yoga approach.

There are no certain ways to execute Bhakti yoga. Some people find that external abets can contribute to a devotional attitude. For instance an altar used during prayer and meditation; using of pictures of Gods to serve as inspiration; chanting or singing of mantras to help in creating a mood as preparation for meditation.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is also known as ‘Hot Yoga’ because it is practiced in a hot room between the temperatures of 36-37 degrees Celsius/ 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat produced is said to encourage purification of toxins through perspiration and loosens up the muscles. Hot Yoga comprises a set of 26 poses done repeatedly. The various styles of yoga consequently present various challenges. Whichever form of Yoga you opt for, it depends on how much you wish to confront yourself.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga, generated by B.K.S. Iyengar, is a form of yoga known for its use of supports, such as belts and blocks, which helps in performing asanas (postures). It is strongly based on the traditional Astanga yoga as explained by Patanjali in his ‘Yoga Sutras’. The yoga sutras accentuate the development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, as well as concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana). Iyengar has regulated over 200 classical yoga Asanas and 14 different types of Pranayamas from the simple level to the incredibly difficult.

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga and it focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. Iyengar founded the use of struts such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps, and even sand bags, which assists in allowing novice to experience asanas more easily.

The regular practice of Iyengar Yoga controls various ailments like chronic backache, immunodeficiency, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and menopause. The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute located in Pune, India.